Identity Thief in 1836?

 

 

Historical research has significantly improved during the past several years with the advent of high-speed Internet access.  Much information regarding Texas history can be found on-line.  At least 10 manuscripts of survivors of the Massacre of Goliad can be found on-line. The manuscript of survivor, Dillard Cooper, describes his harrowing escape along with three other individuals: Zachariah S. Brooks, Wilson Simpson, and Isaac Hamilton. While researching Zachariah Brooks I discovered that he had a brother, George W. Brooks, who also escaped the Massacre.  Using research tools available on the Internet, I discovered that there were two individuals claiming to be George W. Brooks.  They will be identified as:

·        George Whitfield Brooks of Montgomery County (GWB-M); and

·        George W. Brooks of DeWitt County (GWB-DW).

 

Both men claim service in the Army of the Republic of Texas.  In researching the background of George W. Brooks of DeWitt County (GWB-DW), I came across documents which lead me to believe that George Whitfield Brooks of Montgomery County (GWB-M) may have filed a false pension application and false land bounty claims.  It also appears that historians have incorrectly identified him (GWB-M) as serving with Colonel James Fannin at Goliad.

 

The saying, “guilty by association,” will help in separating them and attaching their correct service to the Texas Republic.  This discussion is necessarily confusing because we have two individuals claiming the same name and same service to the Republic of Texas.  George Whitfield Brooks will be associated with his brother, Milton Brooks.

 

George W. Brooks (GWB-DW) will be associated with his wife, Eliza Ann, and his brother, Zachariah S. Brooks.  Zachariah S. Brooks is a well documented and an unquestionable survivor of the Massacre of Goliad.  Both George W. and his brother, Zachariah S. Brooks, were members of Capt. Jack Shackelford’s Company, the Alabama Red Rovers.

 

Let’s start with Whitfield Brooks, also know as George Whitfield Brooks (GWB-M).  Census data and his pension claim indicate that he was born on May 25, 1824[1].  Census data indicates that both he and his brother, Milton, were born in South Carolina.

 

The 1850, 1860, and 1870 Census of Washington County, Texas provides information regarding George Whitfield Brooks.

 

The 1850 Census of Montgomery County[2] shows a “Whitfield Brooks,” age 28, who was born in South Carolina.  His age suggests that he was born in 1822.  His wife is shown as Elizabeth, age 25, and born in Alabama.  No children are shown of this marriage.  Interestingly, Milton Brooks (Whitfield’s apparent brother), is listed directly above Whitfield Brooks (Line 27).  Milton indicates that he, also, was from South Carolina.

 

The 1860 Census of Montgomery County[3] shows a Geo. W. Brooks (GWB-M), age 32, and born in North Carolina.  His age suggests that he was born in 1828.   His wife is shown as Susan, age 23, and born in North Carolina.  Three children are shown in the household.

 

The 1870 Census of Montgomery County[4] shows a Geo. W. Brooks (GWB-M), age 46, and born in South Carolina.  His age suggests that he was born in 1824.  His wife is shown as Susan; age 23 (probably should be 33).  She indicates that she was born in Texas.  On the next page, (Pg 24), line 1, is an 8 month old child named Whitfield Brooks.

 

The pension application of George Whitfield Brooks (GWB-M) provides contradictory information regarding this individual.  His claim, submitted November, 1870, was filed in Washington County which tends to confirm the census data previously discussed.  He indicates that he enlisted in the Army of the Republic on December 12, 1835.  This, coincidently, is the same date that the George W. Brooks (GWB-DW) claims that he enlisted.  GWB-M indicates that he was discharged March 10th, 1836.  This, again, is the date that GWB-DW claims that he was discharged.  It is worth noting that Colonel James Fannin was captured March 20, 1836 and executed March 27, 1836.  The donation[5] of George W. Brooks (GWB-DW) indicates that he “was in advance guard with Col. Horton on March 19, 1836” during the period of Colonel Fannin’s ordeal. The name on the donation is very clear – “George W. Brooks” – not “George Whitfield Brooks”.

 

On his pension application, George Whitfield Brooks (GWB-M) indicates that he has “lived in Texas” from birth which is contradictory to the census data above.  The census data indicates that GWB-M was born in South Carolina.  His pension application (GWB-M) indicates that he was born on May 25, 1824.  This date is confirmed by the census data above.  Based on this birth date, his age at the time Colonel James Fannin was captured would have been 11 years of age.    The pension application makes no mention of being a member of Capt. Jack Shackelford’s Company, the Alabama Red Rovers.

 

Because of the age of this individual, it seems doubtful that this George Whitfield Brooks (GWB-M) was at Goliad and, consequently, could not have participated in the Texas Revolution. 

 

Ms. Kathryn Stoner O’Conner, author of “Presidio La Bahia”, in her treatise of the massacre identifies George Whitfield Brooks as a participant of the Battle of Goliad.  Page 110 indicates that George Whitfield Brooks was “in advance guard with Col Horton on March 19, 1836” during the Goliad Massacre.  She did not verify the name shown on the 1838 donation as being that of George W. Brooks, not George Whitfield Brooks.

 

Now, let’s examine George W. Brooks (GWB-DW).  It should be noted that Brooks' family tradition suggests that the “W” is an abbreviation for “Washington”.  No proof of “Washington” has been found.

 

Census data consistently indicate that George W. Brooks (GWB-DW) was born in 1808 in Virginia.  He married Eliza Ann Clayton on April 19, 1831 in Jefferson County, Mississippi.  Both George W. (GWB-DW) and Eliza Ann are listed in Stephen F. Austin’s “Old 300” arriving in Texas on May, 1831.  This data can be found in Volume 1, Pg 103.  He indicated that his age was 23 and Eliza Ann’s age was 16.  They arrived from Mississippi.  George W. Brooks will later indicate that he was at the Battle of Velasco[6] on 26 June 1832 along with Colonel William B. Travis.  Somewhere between 1832 and 1835, George W. and Eliza Ann went back to Alabama, returning to Texas in August, 1835 and are, again, listed in Austin’s “Old 300” (Volume 2, Pg 41).  In the 1835 entry, W. B. Travis serves as his agent and pays his “fees”.

 

The Index to MILITARY ROLLS of the REPUBLIC of TEXAS 1835 – 1845[7] indicates that among the members of Capt. Jack Shackelford’s Company, the Alabama Red Rovers were George W. Brooks and Zachariah S. Brooks.  The Index indicates that Zachariah S. Brooks escapes the massacre and that George W. Brooks having “been in advance guard with Col. Horton on March 19, 1836”.  Another significant indication of George W. Brooks (GWB-DW)’s presence at Goliad is found in his pension application.  It has an attachment indicating that Zachariah S. Brooks was his brother. This is perhaps the most convincing indication that George Whitfield Brooks was NOT present at Goliad.   No association with George Whitfield Brooks (GWB-M) can be found.

 

The survival account of Dillard Cooper[8] clearly indicates that Zachariah S. Brooks was with him during the foray and successfully escape.

 

The 1850 Census of Montgomery County[9] shows George W. Brooks (GWB-DW), age 43, and born in Virginia.  His wife, Eliza Ann, is also shown in the 1850 Census of Montgomery County (Line 39).  Her age appears to be 30.  They are shown with eight children all of whom were born in Texas.  One of their sons was Beverly Baker Brooks.  Another son is shown as George W., Jr.

 

Since both GWB-M and GWB-DW appear in the 1850 census of Montgomery County, perhaps GWB-M and GWB-DW knew each other and shared backgrounds and experiences.

 

The 1860 Census of DeWitt County[10] shows Geo. W. Brooks, age 52, born in Virginia.  His wife, Eliza Ann, is shown on the following line, age 45, born in Louisiana.  Six children are shown.  One child, Beverly Baker Brooks, is married to Eliza (Ann Ainsworth).  She has a child, Creed Taylor, by a previous marriage.

 

The 1870 Census of DeWitt County[11] shows Geo. W. Brooks, age 62, born in Virginia.  His first wife, Eliza Ann, dies in 1861, and he marries Rachel Ann Rhode.  Rachel is shown in this census, age 29, born in Mississippi.

 

The 1880 Census of DeWitt County[12] shows George W. Brooks, age 72, born in Virginia.  His second wife, Rachel, is shown, age 38, born in Mississippi.

 

These are the facts of two different individuals claiming to be George W. Brooks, both claiming to be survivors of the Massacre of Goliad.  Since the Massacre of Goliad occurred about 175 years ago, much has been published regarding the survivors and, obviously, cannot be “unpublished”.  The data presented in this historical review of the Massacre of Goliad was obtained from various sources available “on-line” using the Internet.

 



[1] Pension application, George Whitfield Brooks, Montgomery County, Texas, dated August 13, 1870.

[2] 1850 Census of Montgomery County, Page 306, Line 28

[3] 1860 Census of Montgomery County, Sheet 173, Pg 69, line 20

[4] 1870 Census of Montgomery County, Sheet 62, Pg 23, line 29

[5] Donation of George W. Brooks, dated June 21, 1838 (see figure 1)

[6] DeWitt County Association minutes, April, 1875

[7] http://www.mindspring.com/~dmaxey/rep_cont.htm

[8] http://www.tamu.edu/ccbn/dewitt/goliadframe.htm

[9] 1850 Census of Montgomery County, Pg 42, Line 38

[10] 1860 Census of DeWitt County, Pg 17, Line 24

[11] 1870 Census of DeWitt County, Pg 1, Line 21

[12] 1880 Census of DeWitt County, Pg 4, Line 15

 

 

 

Figure 1

1838 Donation of George W. Brooks
“been in the advance guard with Col. Horton, March 19th, 1836”

  

 

 

Stephen F. Austin’s “Old 300”
Volume 1, Pg 103

  

 

 

Stephen F. Austin’s “Old 300”, Volume 2, Pg 41

 

Kathryn Stoner O’Conner, “Presidio La Bahia”, Pg 110